Forest Grove — In what I predicted would be a low scoring affair, the Vikings and Titans got together on a windy Saturday afternoon for their opening match in the 6A state playoffs. The winner would advance to play Jesuit, who defeated Central Catholic 5-0 in their Noon matchup on Saturday. The game was bound to be thrown off the wind factor, which was affecting the ball quite a bit throughout the game. Neither team had many opportunities in the opening half, with West Salem not even mustering a shot on goal in the half despite having the wind at their back. Forest Grove was running uphill into the wind and against South Dakota commit Natalie Cunningham in the goal net, with Cunningham booting the ball 50+ yards in every kick opportunity.
In the 33rd minute, Forest Grove had a throw-in that managed to slide past the entire West Salem defense, leaving Ava Henkemeyer 1v1 with an out Cunningham, resulting in a chip shot goal into the net to put the Vikings ahead 1-0 in a game with no real shots on net up to that point. With a goal on the board while running into the wind, Forest Grove had all the reasons to believe the second half would put it away and advance them. However, the Lady Titans came out aggressive after their halftime talk, taking advantage of a passive Forest Grove offense and putting pressure on the goalkeeper.
Six minutes into the second half, Forest Grove found themselves on the attack and had an open shot that got past Cunningham, but a Titan defender flew to the rescue to drill the ball out of the area and preserve a 1-0 game. Eight minutes later, West Salem got past the Vikings defense and drilled the ball into the net to tie the game, but it was nullified by an offsides call and the game remained 1-0 Forest Grove. West Salem would get their redemption in the 56th, when Ciela Acosta drilled a free kick that bounced off the Viking goalkeeper and during the scramble, somehow went into the net to tie the game at 1-1. The goal was credited to Endler, although its still unclear how it managed to get in there.
With a brand new game, both teams mainly traded possessions for the next 20 or so minutes, with Cunningham having to come through with a clutch save to keep the game tied. The golden goal finally came in the 76th minute, as a perfectly executed cross to Sophia Broberg resulted in a beautiful header that froze the West Salem keeper, giving Forest Grove a 2-1 lead with four minutes left. Time would eventually run out on the Lady Titans, and Forest Grove advances to play Jesuit on Tuesday in the Round of 16.